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floor, all work is done, and at night-time the padded quilts or futons are spread on the matting, and, with one quilt beneath and another above, sleep can be enjoyed as comfortably as in bed. Before the evening meal is taken, it is the invariable custom throughout Japan for every member of the household to take a dip in the family bath, which is heated to a temperature of 110 deg. to 120 deg., at which heat it is found to be very refreshing."
Poor Mrs. John Smith, her life is one long slavery. Cooking, cleaning, managing, mending, washing clothes, waiting on husband and children, her work is never done. And amid it all she suffers the pains and anxieties of child-bearing and the suckling of children. There are no servants, and few workers, so hardwrought and so ill-paid as the wife of a British artisan. What are her hours of labor, my trade union friend? What pleasure has she, what rest, what prospect ?
Cannot be helped, do you say? Nonsense. Do you suppose the Japanese wife works as your wife works ? Not at all. My dear John, in your domestic as in your industrial and political affairs, all that is needed is a little common sense. We are living at present in a state of anarchy and barbarism, and it is your fault, and not the fault of the priests and politicians who dupe and plunder you.
And now we come to the last item in your life, your recreation. Here, Mr. Smith, you are very badly served. You have hardly anything to amuse you. Music, art, athletics, science, the drama, and nature, are almost denied to you. A few cheerless museums filled with Indian war clubs, fag ends of tapestry, and dried beetles; a few third-rate pictures, a theater or two where you have choice between vulgar burlesque and morbid melodrama, a sprinkling of wretched music (?) halls, one or two sleepy night-schools, a football field and sometimes-for the better paid workers-a cricket ground, make up the sum of your life's pleasures. Well-yes, there are plenty of public-houses, and you can gamble. The betting lists and racing news have a corner in all the respectable papers !
One of the most palpable and painful deficiencies, John, in all your towns, is the deficiency of common-land, of open spaces. This is because land is so dear. Why is land dear? I will tell you by-and-by.
The chief causes of the evils I have pointed out to you, John, are competition, monopoly, and bad management. There is a penny pamphlet, called
“Milk and Postage Stamps,” by “Elihu,” sold by Abel Heywood. Read it. It shows you the waste of labor that comes of competition.
Go into any street and you will see two or three carts deliver: ing milk. A cart, a pony, and a man to carry milk to a few houses; and one postman serves a whole district; as one milk. man and one horse could, were it not for competition,
Again, in each house there is a woman cooking a dinner for one family, or washing clothes for one family. And the woman is overworked, and the cooking is badly done, and the house is made horrible by steam and the odors of burnt fat. So with all the things we do and use. We have two grocers' shops next door to each other, each with a staff of servants, each with its own costly fixtures. Yet one big store would do as well, and would save half the cost and labor. Fancy a private postoffice in every street.
How much would it cost to send a letter trom Oldham to London ?
So now let me tell you roughly what I suggest as an improvement on things as they now are:
First of all, I would set men to work to grow wheat and fruit and rear cattle and poultry for our own use. Then I would develop the fisheries and construct great fish-breeding lakes and harbors. Then I would restrict our mines, furnaces, chemical works, and factories to the number actually needed for the supply of our own people. Then I would stop the smoke nuisance by developing water power and electricity.
In order to achieve these ends I would make all the land, mills, mines, factories, works, shops, ships, and, railways the property of the people.
I would have the towns rebuilt with wide streets, with detached houses, with gardens and fountains and avenues of trees. I would make the railways, the carriage of letters, and the transit of goods, as free as the roads and bridges.
I would make the houses loftier and larger, and clear them of all useless furniture. I would institute public dining halls, public baths, public wash-houses on the best plans, and so set free the hands of those slaves-our English women.
I would have public parks, public theaters, music halls, gymnasiums, football and cricket fields, public halls and public gardens for recreation and music and refreshment. I would have all our children fed and clothed and educated at the cost of the state. I would have them all taught to play and to sing. I would have them all trained to athletics and to arms. I would have public halls of science. I would have the people become their own artists, actors, musicians, soldiers, and police. - Then, by degrees I would make all these things free. So that clothing, lodging, fuel, food, amusement, intercourse, education, and all the requirements for a perfect human life, should be produced and distributed and enjoyed by the people without the use of money.
Now, Mr. John Smith, practical and hard-headed man, look upon the two pictures. You may think that mine represents a state of things that is unattainable ; but you must own that it is much fairer than the picture of things as they are.
As to the possibility of doing what I suggest, we will consider all that in a future chapter. At present ask yourself two questions:
1. Is Modern England as happy as it might be ?
2. Is my England-Merrie England-a better place than the England in which we now now live?
CHAPTER VI. THE BITTER Cost Of A BAD System. Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them. Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to me; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine. How can he remember well his ignorance —which his growth requires--who has so often to use his knowl. edge? We should feed and clothe him gratuitously sometimes, and recruit him with our cordials before we judge of him. The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.-Thoreau.
And I believe that this claim for a healthy body for all of us carries with it all other due claims; for who knows where the seeds of disease, which even rich people suffer from, were first sown? From the luxury of an ancestor, perhaps; yet often, I suspect, from his poverty.— Wm. Morris.
I have been asked to contribute to the purchase of the Alexandra Park, and I will not; and beg you, my working readers, to understand, once for all, that I wish your homes to be comfortable, and refined; and that I will resist, to the utmost of my power, all schemes founded on the vile modern notion that you are to be crowded in kennels till you are nearly dead, that other people may make money by your work, and then taken out in squads by tramway and railway, to be revived and refined by science and art. Your first business is to make your homes healthy and delightful; 'then, keep your wives and children there, and let your return to them be your daily "holyday."-Ruskin.
The chief struggle of your life, Mr. Smith, is the struggle to get a living. The chief object of these letters is to convince you of three facts :
1. That, with all your labor and anxiety you do not get a good living.
2. That you might and should get a good living with a third of the trouble you now take to keep out of a pauper's suit.
3. That though you worked twenty hours a day and piled the earth with wealth you could have no more than a good living out of all the wealth you produced.
Nature declares, Mr. Smith, that a man shall live temperately, or suffer for it; Nature also declares that a man shall not live very long. So that in the richest state a citizen can enjoy no more than a natural amount, and that a small one, of material things, nor can he enjoy those for many years. In short, the material needs of life are few and easily supplied.
But the range of the spiritual and intellectual pleasures and capacities is very wide. That is to say, that the pleasures and powers of the mind are practically boundless.
The great nation is not the nation with the most wealth; but the nation with the best men and women.
Now, the best part of man is his mind, therefore the best men and women are those with the best minds. But in this country, and at this time, the bulk of the people do not cultivate their minds.
We have here, in the untrained, unused minds of a noble race of people, an immense power for greatness lying fallow, like an untilled field. This is a more serious national loss, as I hope to show you, than if all our mines and farms had never been "opened to commerce.”
Well, my ideal," as I said before is frugality of body and opulence of mind.
I propose to make our material lives simple; to spend as little time and labor as possible upon the production of food, clothing, houses, and fuel, in order that we may have more leisure. And I
propose to employ that leisure in the enjoyment of life and the acquirement of knowledge.
It is as though I said, “You have in each day 24 hours. You give 8 hours to sleep, 10 or 12 to work ('earning a living'), and the rest, or most of it, to folly; go, then, and of your sixteen waking hours spend but four in 'getting a living,' and the other twelve in pleasure and in learning."
Before I attempt to show you in detail how I think you might profitably spend your leisure time, allow me to call your attention to some of the ways in which you now waste your time; yes, and waste your labor also.
We will begin by a brief inquiry into the ordinary domestic waste of time and labor and money that goes on in an average working-class home.
In my last letter I spoke of the drudgery of Mrs. Smith's life. You know that each family has its own dinner cooked daily; that each wife has her own washing-day and baking-day; that she has her own cooking range and implements; that she makes
a special journey to the shops once a day, or once a week, and buys her food and other necessaries in small quantities.
Take a working-class street of one hundred houses. Consider the waste therein. For the convenience of one hundred families you have one hundred small, inconvenient wash-kitchens: one hundred ditto ditto ovens; one hundred ditto ditto dryinggrounds; one hundred wringing machines, turned by hand.
You have one hundred dinners to cook every day. You have, every week, one hundred miserable washing days; you have one hundred women going out to buy a pound of tea and sugar, or other trifles.
Consider the cost of he machines, the cost of coal, the labor and the trouble of the wives expended.
Now cast your eyes over these extracts. This is from “Problems of Poverty,” by John A. Hobson, M.A. (Methuen, 2s. 6d):
“The poor, partly of necessity, partly by habit, make their purchases in minute quantities. A single family has beea known to make seventy-two distinct purchases of tea within seven weeks, and the average purchases of a number of poor families for the same period amount to twenty-seven. Their groceries are bought largely by the ounce, their meat or fish by the halfpennyworth, their coal by the hundredweight or even by the pound.
“Astounding facts are adduced as to the prices paid by the poor for common articles of consumption, especially for vegetables, dairy produce, groceries, and coal. The price of fresh vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, etc., in East London is not infrequently ten times the price at which the same articles can be purchased wholesale from the growers."
This is from “The Co-operative Movement To-Day," by G. J. Holyoake (Methuen, 2s. 6d.):
“It may be assumed that 100 shops earn on an average £2 a week, or £100 a year; thus the hundred shops would earn £10,000 a year. Thus it is evident that every 4,000 poor families in a town actually pay £10,000 a year for having their humble purchases handed to them over a counter.”
And Mr. Holyoake proceeds to show how by establishing one great central store the great bulk of this loss would be saved.
I said to you, when I began these articles, that I am a practical man, and speak from what I have seen. I know all about those small purchases and big prices. I have picked up half-adozen empty bottles off as many ashpits, when a child, and sold them for a penny to buy coal. I have gone out many a time to buy a quarter of an ounce of tea and a farthing's worth of milk. They taught stern lessons in my school.
Now let me describe a different kind of experience, in a different school :